The 8 Best Ways to Open a PSD File Without Photoshop


Photoshop definitely got it right with the PSD file format. It saves the complete state of a still-being-edited image, so you can close down and resume work later.


The problem is that PSD isn’t an open format, as it can only be opened by certain apps that know the file format. Your best bet? Pay for an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription plan.

But if you don’t want or can’t afford that, then how can you open PSD files? In that case, you could try one of the free options we’ve found for you. Bear in mind, though, most of the following apps can’t actually edit PSDs—they can only view PSDs as flattened images. If flattened image viewing is all you need anyway, then these options are well worth trying.


GIMP should be your first stop when trying to open and edit a PSD file for free. Not only is it the best free alternative to Photoshop, but it’s available across Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you can learn it once and use it on all of your systems.

And if it wasn’t clear, yes, PSD support is built right into the app. No need to fiddle with third-party plugins or anything.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

The nice thing about GIMP is that it can actually process the individual layers of a PSD file. The downside is that some layers are unreadable to GIMP, or need to be rasterized so that GIMP can work with them. Saving over the PSD could ruin the file if you intend to open it back up in Photoshop later.

GIMP is open-source software, which comes with several benefits (like being able to peek at the source code whenever you want). The best way to open a PSD file is by getting an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription plan, but GIMP is good if you want a free alternative.

Gimp also has free plugins to download.

Download: GIMP (Free)

PSD file open in Paint.net

Paint.NET knows exactly what it wants to be: one of the best Microsoft Paint alternatives around, without being as bloated or intimidating to learn as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop. It’s right smack in the middle.

But if you want to make it more powerful, you can—by installing various third-party plugins. And if you’re going to do that, there’s one plugin that you absolutely should use: the PSD plugin.

  1. Download the PSD plugin.
  2. Extract the ZIP file’s contents.
  3. Copy the PhotoShop.dll file.
  4. Navigate to the Paint.NET installation folder (the default location is C:/Program Files/paint.net).
  5. Paste the PhotoShop.dll file into the FileTypes subfolder.
  6. Launch Paint.NET.

With the plugin installed, you should be able to open PSD files without a hitch. Note that even though Paint.NET can usually handle PSD layers just fine, you’ll run into occasional issues because Paint.NET doesn’t support all of Photoshop’s features.

However, Paint.NET is still a great alternative if you need to edit a PSD file and don’t have Photoshop experience.

Download: Paint.NET (Free)

PSD file open in Photopea online editor

If you’ve never heard of Photopea before, you’re in for a treat. This lesser-known web app is basically like an online alternative to Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. It’s obviously not as good—web apps rarely get close to their desktop counterparts—but it’s still useful.

The layout is similar, so you’ll feel right at home. Want to open a PSD file? It’s easy.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

And the cool thing is that Photopea can read individual layers, which is a level of feature you might not expect from a free web app. It’s great, though, allowing you to edit your PSDs without charge no matter where you are. Just hop on with any computer.

With Photopea, you can also download and upload additional fonts, something few Photoshop alternatives do.

PSD file open in XNView

XnView is a freeware image organizer that lets you browse and order your image collections in various ways, as well as process them using basic image-editing tools like color palettes, filters, effects, and rotations.

The great thing about this lesser-known app is that it can read over 500 formats and export to over 70 formats, so not only is it useful for viewing images, but also converting them.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

When downloading, you can choose between three setup types: Minimal, Standard, and Extended. Minimal requires the least amount of disk space and is all you need to open PSD files. No need for add-ons, plugins, or anything like that.

Consider downloading XnView if you need to view a PSD file and don’t want to edit it or take up excessive disk space.

Download: XnView (Free)

PSD file open in Irfanviw

IrfanView is similar to XnView in that its main use is as an image viewer and converter. It may not support as many formats as XnView does, but it supports all the important ones—and that’s all that really matters, right?

While IrfanView can easily render flattened PSD files, it can’t edit or save them unless you first export to a different format.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

We recommend keeping this app on your system. Use it as your primary image viewer, and you’ll never be disappointed by it. The best part is it’s extremely lightweight and fast. Plus, you can further enhance IrfanView with some nifty plugins.

Download: IrfanView (Free)

PSD file open in Google Drive

It may seem weird to use Google Drive as a file viewer, but you absolutely can—and it works rather well. Like many other file types, PSDs are viewable through Google Drive on the web.

  1. Visit the Google Drive page.
  2. Click My Drive and select File upload.
  3. Find and select the PSD file.
  4. Click Open.
  5. Double-click the file to view it.

When would you ever use Google Drive for this? Maybe when you aren’t on your own PC and can’t install any other software. It’s also easy to manage shared files on Google Drive, so it could be useful if you need a simple PSD viewer to share work with other people.

You can also share Google Drive files with non-Google users. Google Drive is a quick and efficient way to share PSD files.

Convertio screenshot

This last option is not a way to view, open, or edit PSD files. It’s simply a way to convert PSD files into other formats like PNG and JPG. If that’s the entire reason why you wanted to open PSDs in the first place, then you might as well skip the middle steps.

  1. Click Choose Files.
  2. Navigate and select your PSD file.
  3. Select a new file format.
  4. Click Convert.
  5. Once the conversion is done, click Download.

Simple and straightforward. Nothing more to it.

If you’re a Mac user, then you don’t need to download any software at all—you have your very own PSD file opener built in. The Preview app will open PSDs quite easily.

  1. Find your PDF file, and right-click it.
  2. Select Open With > Preview

And that’s all there is to it. You can make small edits and save to different formats, but any PSDs you open in Preview will be flattened, so you’ll lose any layer information in the file.

Why Not Use Adobe Photoshop?

These solutions definitely work, so if you’re happy with them, go on and keep using them. But if you intend to do serious PSD editing in the future, you really ought to consider grabbing an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription plan instead.

It’s particularly worth it if you’re a photographer—no matter what your skill level is. There’s so much you can do to edit your images, a lot of which isn’t possible with free apps.


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